On August 18 2012 I had the pleasure of attending the Forest Ontario Steam Threshers meet. I have included my highlights that I know aren't necessarily yours. Hopefully though you can enjoy these as I have. My obvious favorite this year was not a tractor but the ca.1926 Ford pickup truck. I do really like all sorts of vintage cars and tractors but it is indeed the early trucks that do it for me. (Why is that?)
Sadly there was not as many Steam powered tractors as in other years.
         These machines are very time consuming, laborious and costly to maintain. However the men that do keep them running and love them seem to disregard the negative aspects and are driven to keep these mechanical Goliath's alive. If you have any local Petrolia or Lambton vintage tractor and especially steam pics send them in and I'll include them here.
For more on the Canadian Group here is their website

A few steam related Websites

Please enjoy this look at the Forest Ontario meet. W.O.S.T.A.
(Western Ontario Steam Thresher’s Association)

All of the pics and videos on this page were garnered with my iphone!

                                                                                                              John Phair
Thanks to John Phair for snapping this shot of your Editor beside the ca.1926 Ford.

                                                                                                        editor's collection
Closeup of the ca.1926 Ford so that you can see the credits

                                                                                                       editors collection

                                                                                                      editor's collection

                                                                                                         editor's collection

                                                                                                       editor's collection
An early Case tractor

Case rear

Case side

More early Case tractor

1939 John Deere  (see the description above right)

Rear ca.1939 John Deere

Side ca.1939 John Deere

An early Steam Roller (more detail later,as I lost my notes at the meet somewhere)

ca.1929 Rumley  Model X (see description lower left)

ca.1929 Rumley

ca.1929 Rumley

ca.1929 Rumley

ca.1929 Rumley

ca.1929 Rumley

ca.1929 Rumley

Yes there was steam. This ca.1913  20hp Sawyer Massey was parked right at the gate to get you tasted up right from the start.

There were several rows of tractors just like this.

Then and now

Short video of a steam tractor in operation

More video of a steam tractor in operation

Video of a steam tractor running a thresher.

Video of small steam tractors running a wood saw.

Video of a huge steam piston running.

A small thresher(in action ) specially made for Fordison being run by a small Ford tractor.

Belle City Thresher: "Made for the Fordson"

by John Phair


One of the more interesting exhibits at this year's Western Steam Threshers' show was Keith Ireland's Belle City Thresher.

    The Strathroy-area collector put on a threshing demonstration with the machine and smoothly threshed a load of grain much to the interest of the many vintage equipment enthusiasts present.

    The machine, which Ireland says he can't date exactly but believes it was made sometime in the 1920s, is not only interesting for its excellent condition and the ease with which it threshes grain, but also for its unique history.

    When the small, affordable gasoline tractor made its debut on the farm during the early days of the 20th century it signalled that the epoch of the steam engine, that smoking, puffing behemoth which had driven saw mills and threshing machines for years, was drawing to an end.

    However, with change comes opportunity, and a Racine, Wisconsin farm equipment manufacturer identified a niche market for small threshers, ones that could be driven by the less powerful gasoline tractors that would soon dominate the farms of North America.

    The origins of the Belle City Thresher Company date back to 1878 when the company manufactured feed cutters and other related farm equipment.

    Known then as the Belle City Manufacturing Company, it was a major manufacturer of silage and feed cutting equipment which were powered by a two-horse treadmill.

    However, in 1893 the company decided to enter the grain thresher market and began with the manufacture of a small, stationary thresher called the Columba.


    The company could have manufactured larger threshers but decided to home in on the market for smaller threshers, thinking there would be less competition from the larger manufacturers such as the J.I. Case Company.

    By 1896, the company was manufacturing 175 to 200 Columbia threshers per year and had also expanded into other lines such as harrows, hay forks, feed carts and other implements.

    In 1909 the company entered into an agreement to build threshers for the International Harvester Company, which did not have a thresher of its own.

    This agreement proved beneficial for both companies, particularly for Belle City because it gave it access to IHC's network of more than 500 dealers and agents.

    Belle City then put out a line of five different size threshers under the Brand name of New Racine.

    However, its emphasis on the small thresher market put Belle City and IHC in a very favourable position at the end of the First World War when the gasoline tractor was beginning to an appearance on North American farms.

    However, the tractor that revolutionized farming and changed everything was the Fordson, which was much smaller and lighter than the behemoths being produced by other companies such as the HartParr and the Mogul which often weighed three times as much as the Fordson.

    The Fordson was also released at a price of less than $500 which provided small farmers an affordable alternative to working horses.

    The advent of the Fordson suddenly made Belle City's small threshers highly popular, particularly as the company continued to make innovative changes to them such as adding an air-blown straw stacker and other improvements.

    However, in 1926 IHC decided to manufacture its own threshing machine and Belle City, realizing it was losing the benefit of IHC's huge dealer network, quickly inked a deal with the Ford Motor Company to sell its Belle City/ New Racine thresher through its network of Ford dealerships.

    Consequently, their advertisements began to claim that the "Belle City/New Racine thresher was the universal thresher ideally matched to the Fordson--the universal tractor."

    Eventually the slogan, "Built for the Fordson" appeared on the side of Belle City threshers, as it does on Keith Ireland's machine.

    "It was built strictly for Fordson," said Ireland, who noted that the machine was all original right down to its drive belts.

    "I bought it at an auction about four years ago and the belts and everything were still on it."

    He added that his father had always lectured him not to leave the belts on a machine when he had finished threshing.

    "You roll them up and put them away where it's dry," he said.

    "And you never leave them tight if the machine is outside and it rains."

    Ireland noted that the Belle City thresher has a 20-inch cylinder while most full size threshers have a 36-inch or some even a 40- inch cylinder.

    "The Fordson didn't have enough horse-power to drive a full-sized machine but it could handle the Belle City machine quite comfortably," he said.

    Ireland, a retired truck driver who spent more than 40 years driving the big rigs, said he has always been an avid collector and restorer of farm equipment but has concentrated more on the hobby since his retirement.

    "I'm mainly an International guy but I collect everything," he said, adding that he hopes future generations continue to collect and restore farm equipment as a way of preserving the country's agricultural history.

    "That's one of the reasons I collect this stuff, I just hate to see these old threshers bought for junk and hauled to the scrap yard."